The Dying Plains
The sun bore down on the nearly empty plains of Hadorik; it's golden light scorching the now fading grass that at once was a vivid emerald color. The wind, that had once made Hadorik's plains a place of rippling grasses and a mild temperature, had long since ceased to blow. The early afternoon sun seemed to keep even the animals at bay, where once gazelle bounded playfully and birds soared on the plentiful updrafts, only the dying grass and stagnate air remained. The streams and rivers had dropped to depths so shallow that their stone strewn beds where visible through the clear waters. Thankfully, the waters never seemed to leave, even in the summer. It was spring now, the ironically life restoring winter had ended a few weeks ago. Slowly, as the sun returned to its full strength, the earth itself seemed to recoil.
A lone man wandered through the dying sea of yellow-green and brown hued blades. His hood was drawn over his head, protecting him from the sun's fury, and the cloak attached was thrown off of his arms so that it draped off of his shoulders and onto his back. He wore a simple green sleeveless shirt covered by a hardened leather cuirass, a wide leather belt filled with various bags and weapons, a pair of loose and rugged pants, and a pair of sturdy boots. In a sheath attached to the belt was a niuweidao, the broad single bladed sword bounced lightly against the man's leg as he followed the nearly nonexistent path. The nine weeks he spent traveling was apparent in his posture. The small town of Drayther sat teasingly close, it's tall wooden wall made of sharpened logs driven into the ground towered over the dying grasslands.
The sudden rustle of shifting grass alerted the man, his hand traveling to the sword's hilt reflexively. A deep growl rumbled from the direction of the rustled grass. Suddenly a large dog like creature leapt out from it's hiding spot, it's massive jaws gaping showing it's tooth filled maw. Just as quickly as the beast lunged the man drew his sword. Not wanting to test the beast's bite he swung the blade between the things teeth, slicing through the muscle on either side of the jaws. Blood ran down the now slack jawed creatures muzzle. But the taste of blood seemed only to further enrage it. Again it lunged, aiming to shred the man with it's viciously curved claws. The man ducked under the beast and swung the blade over his head, causing the dog-thing's organs and blood to fall out as it flew over him coating his cloak in gore. "What the hell is that thing?" the man asked himself, wiping the blood-covered blade off in the creatures fur.
It was larger than wolf, with bloody red fur and similarly colored eyes. Taking a spare cloak out of his pack, the man detoured over to the river to wash out the blood and fluids before it attracted any other sort of monsters. Once he was finished he rang out the access water and placed it into a separate part of his pack. The town was considerably closer now due the amount of ground covered in search of a suitable location to wash his cloak.
He finally reached the large solid wood gates to the town, and knocked on the portion where a smaller entrance was located. A small slot opened revealing a pair of eyes. "Who are you and state your business." The man said from behind the door. "I am Kytic Sakeso, mercenary bodyguard looking for a place to stay the night." Kytic replied and the door swung open revealing a moderately unused path into the town. He nodded to the gatekeeper and walked in, the sound of the door being closed and barred was all the response he received.
Drayther was a small town, but it's streets held the same bustle as the larger cities of Urnet. Merchants lined the main street selling whatever they could, but one was standing without a cart. Kytic drew closer out of curiosity.
"This grand weapon goes to any who can rid this town of that pack of hell beasts!" the aging man called out holding a sword up to the small crowd of spectators.
"Let me see that blade." Kytic called as he came up. The man turned and looked Kytic over before tossing him the sheathed weapon. It was simple enough at a quick glance, a straight, black, and polished wood scabbard with gold and silver intertwining to form the locket and chappe. The sword's hilt was simplistic as well, consisting of a cross guard made by a pair of arches facing away from each other, separated by a straight piece that flared out at the tips. The pommel was formed similar to the cross guards tips with a flared center and arched sides. The hilt portion was a barrel like shape wrapped in a well-worn and cared for black leather. Upon drawing the blade Kytic was impressed. It's straight blade held a strange emerald glow that ran down the entirety of the fuller, the blade's edges where a pristine silvery white that made the whole blade shine like it was blessed by the gods themselves.
"Impressive blade is it not?" the man asked rhetorically "So will you take the job…"the man paused not knowing Kytic's name.
"Kytic, Kytic Sakeso, mercenary bodyguard and I would gladly solve your problem in exchange for this blade." Kytic replied sheathing it and handing it back to the man. "How many of those beasts are there?"
"No more than seven." The man stated, "I take it you've encountered them before?" he asked
"Yeah, one attacked me as I was coming here from the west. So now six are left if your count is correct." Kytic said dropping his pack on the ground. He knelt down and began to dig through it until he found what he was searching for. He drew out the pair of spaulders, and strapping them onto his armor.
"Take me." A man called out as Kytic was about to walk away. This caused Kytic to stop and look. The man was large, about six foot two, broad shoulders and seemingly pure muscle. He was in piece mail armor, some plate and some leather. On his back however was what drew Kytic's attention, a spear, the partisan head glinted brightly in the sun from atop the oaken shaft of the spear.
"The name is Ashler, and I could care less the sword, but even I know six on one is suicide. Those hell beasts are just like any other wild dog, they run in packs, you probably killed Dynrak, the omega." Ashler said holding out his hand. Kytic took his hand and they shook.
"I'd be more than willing to let you join me, that spear of yours will be a life saver." Kytic replied. A murmur spread its way through the crowd, which had slowly grown as the word spread that someone was going to try and kill the hell beasts that plagued the town.
Across the plains in a small meadow, a lone white iris rustled in a gentle breeze that soon died. Next to the iris lied a young woman, white silk wrapped loosely around her unconscious form, her rich brown hair framing her peaceful face. A silvery-coated wolf trotted up to the woman, and laid its head on her stomach and stayed there watching, as if it was protecting her. Again the gentle breeze reached out this time caressing the faces of two men as they walked off into the dying plains.
"So do you have a plan of action, or what?" Ashler asked as they stepped out of the gate.
"I guess, it's actually pretty simple, we find them and then we kill them." Kytic shrugged.
"You are just going to attack the entire pack of hell beasts, at once… are you sane?" Ashler asked doubtfully. The noise of the bustling town was now gone, only the silence of the not quite empty plains. Ashler stopped and waited.
With a heavy sigh, Kytic stopped as well, "Yes, I am sane. The full plan is kill the alphas first, then in the momentary chaos kill the rest." he said. A low rumbling growl pierced the air around them. The rustling of the grass they had attributed to their movement continued despite the duo's lack of movement.
"I think the plans have changed." Ashler said loosening the wraps that held his spear in place. He slammed the butt-end into the dry ground raising a small cloud of dust. Kytic only sighed as he drew his trusted blade, the rustling continued to draw near.
Then with a demonic roar, the hell beasts lunged at the two warriors; however, they were prepared. The two beasts that had lunged found themselves impaled upon their prey's respective weapons. Ashler brought his spear up over his head in arch smashing the creature's skull into the rock-hard dusty ground. A sickening crack heralded the beast's true death. In the mean time Kytic had removed his blade and with the same momentum arched the swing around beheading the second attacker.
More growls reminded the two bloodied men that their job wasn't done. "So, about that plan of yours." Ashler said as he sliced through the dense grasses making a circular clearing around them. The second pair of monsters was a few feet outside of the new clearing, and were slowly closing in.
"I had a back up, just cover me for a second." Kytic said as he bent over his pack and began rustling around inside of it. "Ha ha! I found it, close your eyes on my command ok." Kytic said lighting a small black ball with a wick and tossing it. It flew upwards to about ten feet up. "NOW!" Kytic shouted as the ball erupted into light bringing yelps of pain and confusion from the evil dogs.
"You have flash bombs?!" Ashler asked as he killed the creature before him. His spear tearing through the muscular flesh with ease. "Why are you armed like you're going to war?" he continued the questioning. Kytic however was not going to answer the questions, as his attention was consumed by the hulking figure of the male alpha.
"You wretched mortals, you dare to kill my pack mates, and now even my life mate?" it said in a dark and ominous voice. Ashler spun around quickly to see the one who was speaking. However Kytic was unfazed, staring coldly into the eyes of the giant and intelligent beast. "Your lives shall be the forfeit."- it growled
"I do not fear you, mutt. So do come and exact your revenge on us, I dare you." Kytic said sounding like a whole different person than the one Ashler had met. Upon closer inspection the signature black cloak was pooled around his feet at his back. "I am more than ready for you...come on!" The alpha let out a rumbling growl before charging. It's speed was nearly blinding as it barreled towards the swordsman. Its teeth tore into the flesh of Kytic's sword-less left arm, but not deep enough to hinder him. Three large gashes ran across the outside of his bicep, the crimson rivulets of his blood rolling down his arm.
The alpha however could no longer use it's right front leg, as a bone deep laceration bled freely. This did not seem to deter the rabid beast, but instead only enrage it further. Kytic's muscles strained briefly, and within that second he attacked. He slashed across the beast's chest, hilt smashed it in the skull, cut off one of its ears, and finally rammed the blade home into the beasts skull. The beast fell with a tremendous crash, making Ashler pause to look around, he and one other man just rid Drayther of its second largest problem. The grass was stained with blood, both human and demon, and baked under the relentless sun.
"You need to get that cleaned." Ashler said eyeing the torn flesh on Kytic's arm. Kytic nodded as he continued to skin the dog-like corpse of the alpha.
"Yea, I will." Kytic said shrugging. Once he had finished skinning the giant beast, he began to dig around in his pack. "Hey, Ashler, can you clean and dress wounds?" He asked holding up a herbal salve and some gauze. The larger man shrugged and took the supplies.
"Why don't you just do this in town?" Ashler asked as he pierced through the skin of Kytic's arm with a sterile threaded needle he brought.
"The scar will remind me not to leave this arm open next time." Kytic hissed as the needle went through again. Slowly but surely Ashler stitched up the three jagged wounds, applied some salve and wrapped it up. "Pretty good reminder I'd say." Kytic winced as he patted the dressed wound making sure the wrapping would stick.
"That really didn't answer my question." Ashler said as they began to repack what little had been taken out. Kytic shrugged as he shouldered his pack, then he picked up his cloak and started back towards Drayther. "Are you ever gonna answer me?" Ashler said catching up
"It an old habit, leaving wounds to become scars." Kytic said "I don't go to town doctors because they try to prevent scars, I sort of cherish them, weather they're funny stories or painful mistakes they are like a journal that only I can read." he continued.
"That is probably the dumbest, and unhealthiest idea I've ever heard of." Ashler said as they neared the large gates of Drayther. "Couldn't you just keep a journal written in a secret code?" he asked
"No, not really...I mean what if i forget the code?" Kytic replied
"Write it down." Ashler replied
"But then it wouldn't be so secret would it. Any ways we're back in town so lets go get the rewards." Kytic said cutting off the strange conversation. A hush fell over the crowd as the two men entered the town square; the only sound came from the shuffling of feet across the dusty cobblestone road. Unceremoniously Kytic grabbed an empty crate from a nearby merchant and agilely jumped onto it. Then he unrolled the Alpha's pelt and held it up for the crowd to see.
The silence broke in a deafening roar "The beasts are dead!" the crowd cheered "Three cheers for demon slayers Kytic and Ashler!" The now rowdy crowd bellowed three loud hurrahs as they swept the two heroes off the ground. Soon the whole town had heard the news, and a makeshift festival was set up in the town square. The best the windless and drought-stricken town could offer was layed out.
The old man who had sent the two off to kill the demons now stood and joined Kytic and Ashler. "I never thought I'd see the day those demons died, so as I promised here is your sword and money." the old man handed Kytic the sword and a small purse of coins, and he turned to Ashler and handed him an equally sized purse of coins. "Now boys I must tell you the story of this sword before I can let you go." he said sitting down, the crowd around them hushed intent upon hearing a story
It was long ago when demons roamed the land much like they do now, but these demons where stronger, more intelligent, and far more deadly. However there was a place where these demons could not tread, and that place was the winds palace. In this palace was the high priest who served under Rayhina, the wind goddess, and due to the constant onslaught from demons the High priest had a sect of warriors blessed by the goddess to protect the palace. These warriors became known as the Vanguard of the Wind. Amongst these warriors a bright young fighter gained the favor of the goddess, his name was Yushin, and he quickly proved to be the best swordsman in the whole Vanguard.
It was during this time that demons dared venture into the heavens. They where led by the group of renegade angels known as Serenga. Serenga was a violent force; they tore through the heavens like wildfire. War raged in the heavens as well as our lands. The gods' forces eventually forced Serenga to retreat, but at a dear price, many of the lesser gods had fallen. Serenga was not pleased and they began to gather the demons of the mortal plane into one force. At the head of this front was Serenga's strongest warrior a fallen angel known as Zetial. Zetial was a ruthless fighter, who once served under Uruke the fire god. His massive flaming halberd was like death incarnate on the battlefield.
The Vanguard of the Wind was the only force in all of Urnet that was able to pose any threat to the Serenga. It turned into a giant battle between the two titanic forces of good and evil. Zetial and Yushin lead the fronts during the final battle, the two powerhouses met in the most tremendous battle ever witnessed on Urnet. Zetial was wrapped in a shroud of flames as he charged Yushin, who was being propelled by the wind itself as it tore up the ground around him like a maelstrom.
The two met in a thunderous explosion, fire and wind the greatest forces of destruction fighting for supremacy. Despite the technical disadvantage of the halberd's reach Yushin pushed Zetial back again and again. Zetial redoubled his effort, evening the playing field. Soon both warriors were on their last legs, neither willing to admit defeat. Yushin muttered a prayer to the goddess, as Zetial charged with a roar. They say that Rayhina was standing next to Yushin in those final seconds of the battle. Yushin's sword began glowing a vibrant emerald hue, and he swung cutting through the flame, steel, and the flesh of Zetial.
The price of victory was heavy that day, Yushin died after that final attack, many of the Vanguard had fallen as well. Yushin's body was taken back to the temple, but the mysterious sword, dubbed the Sword of Gales, vanished. That is until wind vanished. I found this sword lying at the foot of a tree in the plains, one that i knew didn't exist before that day. A voice spoke to me deep and rich as the earth we stand on, and it said that a wandering swordsman will heed the call of this blade, find him and deliver unto him the hope this world needs...
The old man stopped, the crowd that had gathered was in awe. Kytic ran his fingers over a faint scar on his left forearm, silently assessing what he had just been told.
"You believe that I am this wandering swordsman?" Kytic asked finally
"I do." the old man replied "Do you require more proof?" he asked confidently
"Honestly, yes I do, because I am not the world saving type of guy..." Kytic trailed off
"You, the one with the spear, come here." The old man pointed to Ashler "Try and draw this sword."
Ashler walked up and took hold of the sword, then he tried to draw it, but instead of the sword coming loose he received a painful shock that numbed his whole arm.
"HOLY SHIT!" Ashler swore tossing Kytic the sword "IT shocked me!" Ashler said nursing the numbed limb, trying to regain feeling.
"OK, so I take it that I'm the only one who can draw the blade." Kytic said skeptically. "I'll keep the sword, I still don't know about this world saving bit." Kytic said to the old man, but he couldn't be found. In the spot where the old man had once been, sat a wooden figurine of the earth god, Banilbur.